New federal funds could build Matsqui dikes

2017 federal budget promises billions for 'disaster mitigation'

Abbotsford could soon see new funds for dikes to protect Matsqui Prairie from flooding.

Abbotsford could soon see new funds for dikes to protect Matsqui Prairie from flooding.

Billions of dollars will soon be up for grabs that could end up funding projects to protect Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley from disasters.

The federal government’s 2017 budget – released Wednesday – included $2 billion for a “Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund to support national, provincial and municipal infrastructure required to deal with the effects of a changing climate.”

It also proposes $16.4 million go to Transport Canada over the next five years to protect federal infrastructure – including roads, railways and ports – from “natural disasters, climate change and extreme weather events.”

While it has not yet been determined where this money will land, it is likely the federal government will see applications from the City of Abbotsford, among other lower levels of government, for new flood-mitigating dikes in the Matsqui prairie.

Earlier this month, B.C. announced $10 million in flood protection funding for Abbotsford to curtail erosion on the banks and dikes protecting the Matsqui prairie. The money is part of an $80 million emergency preparedness fund announced in mid-March.

The Fraser River has been eroding its southern banks, and has been creeping closer to the dikes preventing large-scale flooding.

A recent study estimated Fraser Valley farms could lose $1.1 billion to freshet flooding.

The report from the Fraser Valley Regional District and BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative measured the economic value of agricultural production in the valley and the potential effects of different flooding scenarios.

Almost 30,000 hectares of Agricultural Land Reserve lands are considered vulnerable to freshet flooding in the Fraser Valley, according to the report.

FVRD has pushed for a regional approach to flood management and “laying the groundwork for serious investment in flood mitigation with our partners,” FVRD chair Jason Lum told Black Press in February.

The Transport Canada money could lead to improvements to the railways through Matsqui.

Abbotsford MP Ed Fast, a member of the Conservative opposition, released a statement Wednesday criticizing the government’s tax increases and deficit spending.

“Today’s budget mortgages the prosperity of future generations to pay for the reckless spending of today,” the statement reads. “Future generations of Canadians will be paying off a massive Liberal debt to fund the reckless out-of-control spending on the government’s own priorities, rather than on the priorities of Canadians.”

In the statement, Fast said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should have focused on job creation rather than on raising taxes and spending money.